How to Identify and Stop Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

what are my rights if I experience sexual harassment at work. Manager harassing a woman at work

You have the right to work in a safe work environment, void of sexual harassment and discrimination. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual comments, unwanted physical contact, or sexual advances. This can come from owners, managers, supervisors, coworkers, or clients. Over time, these events can lead to a hostile work environment, leading to employee suffering, lost wages and more. If your employer ignores your rights to a safe workplace free from sexual harassment, you have the right to contact an attorney to hold them accountable and get the justice you deserve.

What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

There are two types of workplace sexual harassment. The first type is called “hostile work environment” sexual harassment, and the second is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment.

Hostile Work Environment Due To Sexual Harassment – Daily actions that may inhibit your work performance, many times people quit their jobs just to escape the harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment – Offering an employee advances in the workplace in exchange for sexual acts. Quid pro quo sexual harassment results in employees feeling pressured and coerced to agree to sexual favors, they can lose money or even their job.

What Are the Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

  • Verbal Harassment manifests through unwelcome sexual jokes, comments, questions, requests for sexual favors, offensive or derogatory comments about a person’s sex and sexual language or innuendos.
  • Physical Harassment includes unwanted touching, groping, kissing, uninvited physical contact, coercion into an unwanted sexual relationship, and indecent exposure.
  • Visual Harassment involves displaying sexually suggestive posters, cartoons, or other materials, making sexually suggestive gestures, and leering/staring at someone in a sexual manner.

What are the Effects of Sexual Harassment In The Workplace?

These actions can have long term effects on an employee’s mental health leading to extreme distress, a loss of income, or your job all together. It creates a hostile work environment that can deter workers from productivity. These effects can have long term effects that carry into your life outside of work as well.

You Have The Legal Right To Work In A Safe Environment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 safeguards employees and job applicants against sexual harassment in the workplace. It applies to companies with a minimum of 15 employees. It also applies to labor unions, employment agencies, and federal and state government employers. Title VII prohibits retaliation, such as wrongful termination, against employees who report workplace discrimination.

Steps to Take if You Experience Sexual Harassment at Work

1. Tell your harasser to stop. If you’re uncomfortable directly telling your harasser to stop, try your best to communicate clearly that their behavior is unwelcome and unacceptable.
2. Report the harassment to management and ask that something be done to stop it. Report the harassment to someone with the authority to act. If your employer has specific procedures for handling workplace sexual harassment complaints, follow them carefully. It’s advisable to submit your complaint in writing. If possible, have a trusted witness present when you do so. Request confirmation from your employer in writing that they received your complaint, noting the date and time. Keep a copy of your complaint for your records. Typically, under discrimination laws, employers must be informed of harassment and given an opportunity to address the issue before liability can be established.

3. Comply with the employer’s investigation into your complaint. Utilize any opportunities provided by the employer for prevention or resolution.

4. Notify management of the harassment and request immediate action to address it. Inform a person with authority to make decisions regarding such matters. If your employer has established procedures for addressing workplace sexual harassment, adhere to them accordingly. It is advisable to document your complaint in writing and, if feasible, have a reliable witness present. Seek confirmation from your employer in writing that they have received your complaint, including the date and time of submission. Retain a copy of your complaint for your records. In most instances, under discrimination laws, employers must be informed of harassment and provided an opportunity to address the issue before potential liability can arise.

How to File A Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim?

You must file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the incident. If you intend to file in a state with its own sexual harassment laws covering workplaces statewide, you have up to 300 days to file your claim with the EEOC.

Employer Responsibilities for Preventing and Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment

  • Your employer is required to provide training on workplace sexual harassment to all employees, managers, and agents, outlining how reports of sexual harassment will be handled.
  • Your employer must establish policies and procedures to prevent workplace sexual harassment and actively monitor and enforce these guidelines. Merely having policies and procedures in place is insufficient; they must be communicated to employees and rigorously enforced by the employer.
  • Your employer must establish clear procedures for reporting workplace sexual harassment, ensuring that you can report incidents easily and effectively.
  • Your employer is obligated to conduct prompt and thorough investigations into reports of workplace sexual harassment. They must take swift and effective action to prevent recurrence, ensuring that such behavior ceases immediately. Employers should not resort to negative actions like termination or detrimental changes to the victim’s job as solutions to workplace sexual harassment. For instance, separating the victim and harasser through schedule adjustments or reassignments should not harm the victim’s career or income, as such actions are considered “adverse employment actions.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to Sexual Harassment at Work:

What should I do if I’m afraid of retaliation?

Answer: It’s illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting harassment. Document any retaliatory actions and consult with an attorney immediately.

Can I file a claim if the harassment happened months ago?

Answer: Yes, but you must file a claim with the EEOC within 180 days of the incident. In some states, you have up to 300 days.

What if my employer doesn’t take my complaint seriously?

Answer: If your employer fails to address your complaint adequately, you can escalate the matter by filing a claim with the EEOC or contacting an attorney.

Consult with a Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney Today

The long-term effects of sexual harassment can wreak havoc in a victim’s professional and personal life. The dedicated attorneys at Derek Smith Law Group specialize in Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Employee Rights. They have zealously fought on behalf of thousands of clients to provide justice and hold employers accountable.

At Derek Smith Law Group, Tenacity, Passion, & Commitment are at the forefront of all our client relationships. We know legal issues can be overwhelming. That is why we offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and explore your options with our experienced sexual harassment attorneys. During this no-obligation call, you can ask questions and gain valuable insights.
Call us today at 800-807-2209 or fill out the free consultation form to get started with the best attorneys in the field.